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Pinnacle Liquid Edition 6 Pro

New Edition makes the most of hardware and software By Charlie White

When we took a look at a late beta version of Pinnacle Liquid Edition Pro ($1000) about three months ago (read that article here), it was a full-featured upgrade of Pinnacles nonlinear editing software and hardware product. With numerous improvements to its user interface, a brand new hardware breakout box and evolutionary improvements in other areas, it was already an impressive effort. As could be expected, it was not entirely stable in its late beta condition, so after an extensive overview of the software and hardware, we vowed to test it for stability after it was released. Heres what we found.

The good news is that Pinnacle Liquid Edition Pro is now a stable, real-world application, and throughout all of our testing we noticed no problems with stability whatsoever. This was quite different from what we noticed with the beta version. We were able to test the Pro version of Liquid Edition, which includes a gorgeous Porsche-designed breakout box and retails for $1000. Where previous versions of Liquid Edition Pro contained an ATI Radeon graphics card, instead, the Pro version of Liquid Edition 6 now includes this new breakout box. For $500 less, you can get the software-only version of Pinnacle Liquid Edition. With either the hardware or the software-only edition of Edition, you get lots of real-time effects playback for your buck. The breakout box adds a variety of input and output options on top of all this, including component, composite, S-Video, and even S/PDIF digital audio I/O, along with the usual suspects, analog RCA audio and IEEE 1394. I can't fail to mention that even though this breakout box is one of the most beautiful Ive ever seen, I hardly think its worth anywhere near $500. Its obvious overdesign, in my opinion, seems to me to be an effort to convince buyers that its truly worth its $500 price tag.

I couldn't resist putting in this beautiful shot of the Porsche-designed breakout box for Liquid Edition 6.

So thats one of the breakout boxs advantages its myriad input and output capabilities beyond the standard DV so if you choose the software-only version, youll have to furnish your own 1394 I/O. More importantly, with software only, whenever you add any effects to your video you wont be able to view them in an NTSC or PAL monitor without rendering. When testing the software without the hardware breakout box attached, as soon as we added an effect the video wouldnt show in our NTSC monitor. So, if you want to see your video effects in real time on a TV set, even when looped through a DV camcorder or tape deck, youll need the breakout box. You can still see all of your effects and video in the program window on your computer screen, however. To some, this may not make any difference. But to others who want to see their playback on a TV screen, and also need to input and output all the various formats of which this Porsche-designed breakout box is capable, they may be compelled to reluctantly shell out the extra $500.

This breakout box is unusual for more than just its looks, too it connects to your computer via USB 2.0. Could that actually be fast enough to move a high-definition video through it and back? Well, we didnt have the footage or equipment to test the HDV throughput, but it certainly does justice to DV. Keep in mind that USB 2.0 is theoretically faster than DV (1394 or FireWire, all the same thing).  

Another unique aspect of Pinnacle Liquid Editions real-time effects handling is the unique way it uses the graphics processor (GPU) for real-time graphics, while at the same time also using the host processor, or central processing unit (CPU) for graphics rendering in playback. True, this is nothing new nor is Pinnacles unique render-as-you-go technique but both still prove to be handy on a regular basis. When Edition is sneaking in some rendering, you see a little line creeping across your timeline, indicating that this industrious tool is working when you are, and even when you arent. Place an effect on a shot, and then as you continue to work it renders in the background.

Of course, when real-time playback performance depends on both your GPU and your CPU, it helps to have a couple of beasts under the hood to move things along. And thats just what we had, because we were using the latest Dell Precision Workstation 470 with dual Xeon 3.6 processors, along with a PCI Express graphics card with 128 MB of DDR video RAM, along with two gigs of RAM on the motherboard. With this tank of a computer the fastest one weve tested yet Pinnacle Liquid Edition was able to mow down just about anything we threw at it. But even if you dont have a world-class dual processor behemoth under your desk, Liquid Edition can still deliver impressive performance, as it did in our demo of the beta software where we had a computer from a couple of years ago still able to play back multiple layers of real-time effects. To give you an idea, Pinnacle recommends a minimum of 64 MB of video RAM to get the most out of its Liquid Edition line. Another must is USB 2.0, which wont be a problem with many users since most computers built within the past two years include this technology. But if I were you, if youre considering using Liquid Edition for effects-intensive editing and compositing, I would get my hands on the most powerful computer I could possibly afford it makes that much difference. 

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Related Keywords:Pinnacle Liquid Edition Pro, nonlinear editing software, hardware, user interface, breakout box, review, Charlie White

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